Pod Point is a fast-growing UK-based EV charging station company. The company innovates and streamlines “friction-free charging.” Robert Llewellyn visited the company’s head office and shared his enlightening exchange with Erik Fairbairn, the CEO and founder of the company, in a recent “Fully Charged” show.
Fairbairn started Pod Point when EVs were nearly invisible. Pod Point started before the Nissan Leaf was around and before most other EVs that are presently familiar sights to us “early adopters” were born. With one lonely charging station in 2009 and a vision of the expanding EV charging future, Fairbairn began Pod Point. “The key point at Pod Point is that we are mission driven. At Pod Point, we fundamentally believe that travel shouldn’t damage the Earth.”
“Fast forward 7 years and we have 27,000 charging stations compared to that first one.” Fairbairn is an animated swift-talking conversationalist. (CleanTechnica editor note: I can definitely confirm this, just from my experience interviewing Erik by phone. He made a strong impression on me via his passion, depth of knowledge, and focused but swift-talking style. —Zach)
In the video, Erik fires off bursts of information and projections about EV charging stations. As he shares his take on EV progress and EV charging, his eyes light up and his hands flail while he expresses a fast-paced stream of EV consciousness, a rapid line of thoughts. He addresses a subject he knows well — inside and out. If our EVs charge as fast as he talks, we are going to be on our way with little dust but much distance behind us.
He speaks of people mapping their old behavior (from gas/petrol/diesel cars) onto EVs. As an early adopter, I can tell you to listen to him and forget that.
This is a new time, a new day. Breathe in deeper at your charger and stop expecting it to be like the smelly gas station that you could not leave fast enough. As EV charging customers, as Fairbairn says, we are looking for simplicity — “friction-free charging” — but not the same as before in any sense.
“Travel should not damage the earth. If you’ve got the skills to be an entrepreneur, I believe you should have a social agenda. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should also do some good.” Pod Point now has 27,000 chargers. Fairbairn breaks down his opinion on the eventual market split in terms of where people will charge — 60% at home, 30% at work, 7% non-rapid charging in public, and 3% rapid charging in public.
People are always talking about rapid charging. It is old behavior projected on a new EV reality, which is not so much about old behavior.
Erik also talks of simplifying the already rather simple charging experience. He projects EVs will increase 10% by 2020 and to 100% in another 10 years. Somewhere around 2020, he sees the mass market settling into EVs. Watch the “Fully Charged” episode more and follow his mental curve working in sync with a rollout of EVs, EV charging, and then some.
As Robert and Erik walked through the POD Point Museum, Fairbairn shared that Pod Point’s focus is friction-free charging. Things such as having to swipe your charging card one more time to release the plug need to go. Now, with Pod Point, you simply disengage the plug, jump into your EV, and drive on.
More thoughts he adds after being asked about paid charging are: Electricity is not free. The cost per mile is certainly cheaper than gas, but we have to link public charging more with costs associated with it. However, the perfect answer is not the same everywhere. Some places will likely end up charging per session, some per minute or hour, and some per kWh. It will depend on various factors.
Responding to the consumer desire for “universal access” to charging stations, Erik notes: As was the case with early mobile phones, the EV network is still forming, and the various competitors and competing models prevent universal access, but these things will be connected and streamlines more as time goes on. Now we don’t even consider what provider we are using for our phones when calling people — we call anyone anywhere. As part of that, Erik argues that we will get rid of the RFID card.
And how to manage this growing network of many charging cars? How can the grid manage it? This is largely a question of when and how people charge. Charging networks will have to monitor and manage how and when people (to some extent), Fairbairn thinks. For more musings check out this edition of Fully Charged with Robert Llewellyn (video at the top).
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